n' at the Autry, Los Angeles (Griffith Park) California, 7-8-April-2006
By Dan Cannon, BBQ Team BBQbyDan.com
THE VENUE & FRIDAY TURN-IN'S
I have lived in or near Los Angeles all my life and had
never had the opportunity to visit the Gene Autry Museum so I was very
pleasantly surprised at how nice the location and venue turned out to
be. I arrived an hour or so prior to noon and found that more than half
the teams appeared to be set up already. I met Arlie in the venue
parking facility upon arrival and was put in a perfect spot close to
everything while easily accommodating my vehicles and space
Early on rain had been predicted but fortunately the
weather pattern changed and it was a beautiful warm day. I had a chance
to visit other BBQ teams and relax a bit before the late afternoon
rigors of the BBQ Sauce and Southwest "Anything But" turn-in's later
It’s always nice to get to walk around and visit old
friends and new teams prior to starting the contest.
Rick and Karen Streiff (BBQbyDan team members) arrived
about 3:00 pm and setup adjacent to our cooking site. We then started
to get to the business of preparing and assembling the “Anything But”
entry for the evening. There was lots of chopping of peppers and cheese
grating to obtain the required indigenous Southwest Mexican flair and
taste. The BBQ sauce entry was about as hard as pouring it into the
provided cup and warming it up a bit. Sauce went in at 7:00 pm, the
“Anything But” entry went in at 7:30 pm. Our team entered Shrimp
Enchiladas. We were happy and thought they were great! However, we
ended up with a 10th place out of 20 entries. So, the judges gave us an
Rick and I had lots of pork ribs, beef briskets, pork
butts, and chicken to trim, season, and prepare for quick entry into the
pit later that evening and the next morning. We had our work cut out
This was the third BBQ Contest that Arlie Bragg has
organized that I have attended and they are always very nicely planned
out, well organized, and "Team-Friendly" in their approach and attitude.
Arlie is always at the venue location early morning (07:30 am) on
opening day providing easy and organized entry, access, and setup.
Vehicle and space requirements are always nicely provided for making it
easy to arrive and get setup. Electrical, water, and required facilities
are always abundantly available. All the above are guaranteed to make
BBQ Cook-Off's a very pleasant and enjoyable experience. Especially
the instant availability of ice for meats and liquid refreshments that
were delivered to each team’s location.
Autry dinner tickets (3) were provided to all the teams
upon arrival with the participation kits. I understand that it was a
fantastic gala and meal provided by the Gene Autry venue staff and the
sponsors. However my team was so busy preparing our turn-in’s, prepping
meats, and cleaning up, that we were unable to break away long enough to
attend. But, that is fine as I am there really to do a BBQ contest and
needed to keep my mind and team focused on the tasks of doing the best
we could do.
SATURDAY AT THE AUTRY
Saturday was a beautiful day, many spectators, and much
going on. Unlike any other BBQ Contest I have seen in California over
the last 10 years this event was well publicized through the media.
Months prior to the event I saw websites posted and billboards on the
freeways advertising the BBQ'n at the Autry Cook-Off.
Days prior there were local television reporters doing
spots at the Autry with noted Chef's touting their BBQ skills and
speculating on who was going to be the next BBQ champions in
California. There were three television stations on location throughout
the day filming a bit, or a lot, at each team location. I believe they
were from ABC, the History Channel, and an Australian television
Overall there was a lot of positive energy and excitement
from not only the attending public but also from the organizers,
volunteers, staff, and participating teams. With such a nice venue,
great weather, and perfect organization, BBQ Cook-Off's don't get much
TURN-IN'S, AWARDS, & DEPARTURE
Finally turn-in time arrived and we did skillfully what
we have done so
many times before. Perfectly (hopefully) prepared our
greens, did our best to pick the best pieces of meat or chicken for
final turn-in, and got everything to the judges tent by the specified
Since the advent of BBQ Contests presented on the
Food Network the participating public has become much more
sophisticated in their knowledge and questions. Instead of just
walking by and asking for samples they are now asking detailed
questions about the smokers, hardware used, and obtaining
information for building or buying BBQ hardware to start BBQ'ing and
entering contests themselves. Guess that BBQ and contests will be
occurring more often and more teams will be entering at future events.
Awards presentation commenced at 04:00 pm. Gene Autry
staff and sponsors thanked all for their attendance. This ceremony
was a bit longer than usual due to the television coverage and
ensuring that all participants called up to the stage were
photographed and on film.
Team BBQbyDan was pleasantly surprised to be called to
the stage four times. We also were awarded “Reserve Grand Champion”!
BBQ Team Otis and the Bird took the “Grand Championship”. All scores
are posted above or at:
Our team was very excited and honored to be selected by
the judges out of so many (29 participating) long-time and
experienced award winning teams. A moment like that can never be taken
for granted or expected. One has to relish in those moments when they
happen as it might be fleeting and the last.
Since the Autry recommended it might be best to not stay
the night we had fully packed after turn-in's and were ready to pull
out immediately after awards presentation. I was home with my first
beverage in hand by 6:30 pm while trying to relish and enjoy the
successes of the day.
Early BBQ Contest departures are something I don’t like
to do. Part of the attraction and enjoyment of these events is the
ability to sit down after an event, relax around a campfire or heater,
and chit-chat with the other team. We discuss how the contest went,
what we did wrong or right, and finally to relish and appreciate the
awards we may, or may not, have obtained. The participating BBQ teams
through the years have come to know each other very well, are good
friends, and feel like family. The period of time after a contest is
looked forward to as much as the contest itself. At almost all
contests many will stay the night after the event, stay up late visiting
with good friends, and relax after a weekend of schedules and stress.